Office of Planning and Budgeting

On Monday, leadership in the House Appropriations Committee released their initial operating budget proposal. This proposal follows last week’s release of the Senate operating proposal and December’s release of the Governor’s operating and capital proposals.

See the new OPB brief here for information regarding the House proposal, as well as a full comparison between current budget proposals.

Some noteworthy items in the House Appropriations operating budget proposal include:

  • Compensation: Partially funds a 2 percent increase in FY18 and two 2 percent increases in FY19 for non-represented employees, and partially funds collective bargaining agreements for represented employees.
  • Tuition Policy: Like the Governor’s proposal, the House would freeze resident undergraduate tuition across all public higher education institutions for two years, and would provide funding to cover the difference between the tuition freeze and incremental revenue expected under current policy.
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: Adds $6 million to the UW over the biennium to increase degree production in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Financial Aid: Appropriates $49.2 million to the State Need Grant to reduce the number of unserved, eligible students, by 25 percent (around 6000 students).
  • Provisos: Adds new funding for several targeted efforts, including funding for the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE Program)

In addition, the Senate Ways & Means committee released its proposed capital budget on Tuesday, and the OPB brief on the Senate’s proposals has been updated. Some highlights include:

  • Funding to complete the Burke Museum ($24.2 million)
  • Minor Works and Preventative Maintenance ($70.8 million from the UW Building Account)
  • Major Infrastructure – Seismic Upgrades ($10 million)
  • Population Health Sciences Building ($15 million)
  • Health Sciences Education – T-wing Renovation ($10 million)
  • Center for Advanced Materials and Clean Energy ($10 million)
  • Evans School – Parrington Hall Renovation ($10 million)

The House has not released a capital budget as of the time of this posting, but that brief will be updated once that information is available.


Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on proposed budgets.

On Tuesday, leadership in the Senate Ways & Means Committee released their initial 2017-19 operating budget proposal. This proposal is the first from a legislative body following the release of Governor Inslee’s operating and capital budget proposals from December. See OPB’s brief here for a full comparison. Unlike the Governor’s budget proposal, the Senate does not propose significant new revenue, and therefore would provide far fewer new investments in new and existing programs.

Some noteworthy items in the Senate budget proposal include:

  • Tuition Policy: Maintains current tuition policy allowing a 2.2 percent increase in resident undergraduate tuition in FY18 and a 2.0 percent increase in FY19. The Governor proposed freezing tuition for two years, and provided funds to backfill that freeze.
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: Adds $10.5 million to the UW over the biennium to increase resident undergraduate enrollments in STEM and other fields.
  • Financial Aid: Reduces the UW’s state appropriation by $5.2 million over the biennium and assume that the University would offset the reduction by reducing tuition waivers provided to students.
  • Compensation: Partially funds $500 wage increases per year for faculty, staff, and represented employees. The budget would also reject tentative collective bargaining agreements between the UW and represented employees.
  • New “Central Service”: Reinstates a charge for central services provided by the Governor’s Office of Financial Management, which would divert $7.5 million in tuition revenue over the biennium.

The Senate did not release a capital budget as of the time of this posting, but the brief will be updated once that information is available. We expect to review proposals from the House Appropriations Committee early next week, and will post additional information at that time.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on proposed budgets.

Hello! My name is Sharyl Morris and I am one of the Legislative Analysis staff members in the Office of Planning & Budgeting. I have been employed in the field of higher education since 2001, when I began working in the main library at Tufts University (Medford, Massachusetts). As I worked my way from the east coast to the west coast, I also shifted my focus from university libraries to administrative planning and budgeting and policy analysis. During session, I track bills that are introduced by the legislature and prepare fiscal notes that are used by legislative staff as they determine the direction and funding level of proposed bills.

When the legislature is not in session, I support OPB’s Budget Office where my areas of expertise include financial index maintenance, fixed cost analysis, revolving funds, and Student Technology Fee support.

Like the others on my team, I will be updating this blog with posts involving various higher education topics. My first post is a brief on cohort-based tuition models.

Please send me an email if you have any questions or feedback. Thanks for reading!

A new brief from the Office of Planning & Budgeting provides an overview of cohort-based tuition models (also referred to as guaranteed tuition, tuition lock or fixed-rate tuition models), which is a form of tuition policy in which a cohort of matriculating students pays a fixed rate of tuition for some specified period of time. The brief explains the model in more detail and covers its effects on both students and institutions.

Earlier today, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released its March revenue forecast, which increased projected General Fund-State (GF-S) collections by $247 million for the current 2015-17 biennium and by $303 million for the upcoming 2017-19 biennium. These increases are on top of the increases projected in the November revenue forecast.

Here is a quick summary of the total projected GF-S revenue for each biennium:

  • $38.227 billion for the 2015-17 biennium, 13.5 percent more than the 2013-15 biennium
  • $40.817 billion for the 2017-19 biennium, 6.8 percent more than the 2015-17 biennium
  • $43.842 billion for the 2019-21 biennium, 7.4 percent more than the 2017-19 biennium

Behind the numbers:

  • The forecast largely attributes the higher projections to increases in retail sales tax and Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) collections.
  • The forecast includes slightly stronger personal income and employment growth than were projected in November
  • Concerns cited in the forecast include slow global and U.S. Economic Growth, weak labor productivity growth and uncertainty regarding fiscal and trade policy.

Any excess revenue collected in the 2015-17 biennium will contribute to reserves that will be available as one-time funds to spend in the 2017-19 biennium. Budget writers in the Senate and House will use this updated forecast of fund balance and projected 2017-19 revenues as a baseline for their budget proposals, which are expected to be released within the next couple weeks. During today’s meeting of the Economic & Revenue Forecast Council, Senator Braun and Representative Ormbsy (chairs of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and House Appropriations Committee, respectively) discussed that overall, this revenue forecast is positive news and will be used to make final adjustments to each of their budget proposals.

The state continues to face significant budgetary challenges, largely due to required investments in K-12 education. Governor Inslee’s operating budget proposal, released in December, included over $4.4 billion in new revenue to help invest in K-12 education. Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on budget proposals as they are released by leadership in the House and Senate.


Wednesday, March 8, marked the last day for bills to be considered in (and pass out of) their house of origin during the 2017 Washington state legislative session. This is an important session cutoff, as it narrows the field of bills and helps us home I on those that may have traction towards become a law. As a reminder, however, bills can be introduced and brought back to life at any point in session if they are deemed essential towards implementation of the budget.

Throughout the 2017 session, the Office of Planning & Budgeting (OPB) has been actively tracking legislation that could directly impact the University community. At this point in session, OPB would like to provide a mid-session update by the numbers.

  • 64 – Today, March 13, marks the 64th day of the 105-day regular session. (Note: Due to significant financial pressures, especially those associated with fully funding K-12 education under the McCleary decision, it is likely that the legislature will require one or more special sessions on top of the 105-day regular session.)
  • 88 – The number of fiscal note requests responded to by OPB. Fiscal notes are requests from the state Office of Financial Management to evaluate the financial impact a bill would have on the UW.
  • 409 – The total number of bills being tracked by OPB that could impact the UW community.
  • 124 – The number of bills identified by OPB as “alive”, meaning those that passed out of the house of origin before the cutoff date.

Our focus at OPB now shifts from gaining a big picture view of all bills that may impact the University, to focusing on the specific pieces of legislation that may have enough momentum to pass into law.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates regarding budget proposals from the House and Senate. Briefs on the Governor’s budget proposals, as well as information on all future budget proposals can be found here on the OPB Briefs webpage.